USF's Jozwiak overcomes heart issues to return to field

Tampa, Florida -- When your name is Thor, you're expected to be strong.

When your name is Thor, you're expected to be courageous.

But sometimes, even for Thor, your body won't let you.

"I thought the game was going to be taken away from me – a game I hold so dear to my heart, ironically," said Thor Jozwiak.

As a freshman, Jozwiak played in nine games and started five down the stretch for a team that finished with a 3-9 record. Heading into his second season as a Bull, he was expected to be a starter for new head coach Willie Taggart until one day during workouts he collapsed on the practice field.

"I spent eight days at Tampa General Hospital last camp," he said. "I'm laying there thinking, 'What am I going to do?'"

He was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, a form of irregular heartbeat. Patients can live with it and lead normal lives but are told not to push their bodies. That meant giving up football for Jozwiak.

"(My heart) was misfiring. It wasn't beating normal," said Jozwiak. "It's like my heart was trying to play catch-up with itself and that was very hard and very stressful."

So, last season, Thor just sat and watched. Game after game. Loss after loss. His heart was with them but he couldn't help his teammates. Taggart's team finished 2-10 and Jozwiak knew he could have made a difference.

After a year of treatment and rest, he's back in the mix. He's working out with his teammates. His weight is up to 322 pounds and he says he feels "amazing, best I've felt in a long time." With his heart issues behind him, he's ready to attack this season, wholeheartedly.

"Running out of that tunnel is unlike any experience you can imagine," he said. "It beats any adrenaline rush or roller coaster … To know that I get that opportunity again makes me feel really good."


USF's athletics website says Jozwiak's father, Brian, was an All-American at West Virginia and was a first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1986. Thor was a member of the A/B honor roll, volunteered at his mother's school, took part in numerous fundraisers for his high school and is majoring in communications. He is also a very talented golfer and once shot a 6-under par round.


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